Hell, kids as young as twelve or thirteen were running off to fight in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars; and before that, running out West. Or running off to sea. European youths were apprenticing or indenturing themselves, running off to the New World.
In those times, leaving your town or county frequently meant that your family would never hear from you again; never even know if you were alive or dead.
Starting a new life, back then, had a literal meaning.